Thursday, April 2, 2015

Maundy Thursday

 Maundy Thursday is my favorite day of the liturgical year, even though the typical Maundy Thursday service is boring, dry, old, and confusing.  But here's why I love it:  on this day, we remember that Jesus ate with rowdy, strange people he called friends, he gave us the commandment to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and he showed us what it's like to be nourished by community so well that we can go serve others with a love that is humble but not demeaning, because of true relationship!

  I've always wanted to see a Maundy Thursday service where everyone sits around the alter in a sanctuary, laughing, joking, gnawing monster sized bites out of a huge, crumbly and messy loaf of bread, and passing bottles of wine around for everyone to share.  I imagine the feeling of love and relationship continuing as the meal is finished and people begin to walk around with lavender scented wet wipes and wash the splashes of wine from the cheeks and chins of one another, and brush crumbs off of one-another's laps and shoulders.


 Then the community would sing the Lord's prayer while they all gathered brooms and made the mess from the floor disappear before the evening janitor shows up - because when we eat together, love one another and ourselves, and serve alongside one another for mutual benefit, we are more fully prepared to go out and remember how to be Jesus in our otherwise broken world.  And the breaking of Jesus on Good Friday and rising of Christ on Easter morning feel so much the richer when we have spent time remembering why and how we are who we are - Jesus-following friends.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Knowing Thy Neighbor

My next door neighbor on one side is D, a 94 year old WWII vet who still lives alone in his house and loves harvesting fruit from his numerous trees in his yard and sharing them with the neighborhood.  He has an organ in his living room and loves to play it, reads Readers Digest religiously, and ALWAYS has Fig Newtons in the cupboard.  The neighbors on the other side are a couple - J and E - married just under 40 years, and their son M.  J is retired, and E loves to buy sweet little gifts for my children for most every holiday.  M just graduated from college and is looking for his first serious job.  Next door to them are F and D, and their son P - engineer and nurse by day, avid food gardeners by evening and weekend.  And across the street are P and K, who run their own successful business and while staying at home raising 4 boys, 2 of which are now in college.  Also across the street are R and K - college professor and hospital pharmacist, god music and game lovers; P the 84 year old neighborhood watch wonder woman, and her son D who is mister fix/build anything.  My neighborhood.  My community.

A few weeks ago, as I began a new job as a community organizing specialist, I sat in on a meeting of pastors meeting with a leader of The Missional Network.  Alan, the speaker, told a story of a time he asked a room full of church leaders to write the names of their neighbors on a piece of paper.  Then write something they would only know about their neighbor from being in their house.  Then add something you know they are yearning for.  The people in the story were unable to do it, and from the looks between my colleagues around the room, they weren’t likely able to do it, either.

The culture of now is a culture that yearns so very deeply for real relationship and community, yet denies many of the opportunities available to create them.  Church is a place that, traditionally, has meant to meet these needs, but theologically has alienated those who feel “othered” time and time again.  What would it mean if pastors, and church leaders, and church members, were able to name their neighbors and the joys, struggles, and truths of one another simply because community mattered.  Not because they might get them to go to church or whatever, but simply because we remember that community is rugged, and other, and holy, and true.  And when we see others as they truly are, we give chance for others to see us as we truly are - L and J, the organizer nun-mom who swears like a sailor and never forgets a birthday, and the contractor energy saving man who will spend his days off solving a neighbors heating crisis or fixing all the bikes on the block, and their kids H - who is the most friendly,and welcoming girl to ever live, and S who smiles at everything and climbs on anything and shares his snacks with all the dogs walking by.  

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Tomorrow I start my first day in this new call - Community Organizing Specialist for the Northwest Washington Synod of the ELCA.  I am so excited I can barely breathe.  It will be a long week, because I also start the other part of my new call - serving as the Community Organizer for Catacomb Churches, and the college I teach a course at begins its Spring semester as well.  

Long week ahead.

But today, the day before this crazy week and new way of living and doing life as a dual-income family begins, we went to a kind lady's home, and adopted two baby bunnies.  They are brothers, and as you can likely tell from the picture above, greatly loved already.  

I believe that our particular and unique family thrives on chaos and non-normative ways of being.  Every time something shifts, we seem to stack 5 other shifting things atop life.  And we grow so much in the pushing-pulling-newness.  We are nourished by change and challenge and find our selves and our joy and our growing edges softening up as we live this life chaotically.  

And so, tonight, as the kids screamed about what to eat, and we brought home dishwasher detergent we have been out of for 3 days, and sorted 6 loads of laundry, and packed lunches, and gathered daycare supplies, and snuggled baby bunnies while still trying to get their most perfect names settled, I am happy.  I am free.  I am loved.  I am ready.